Priska is a marijuana addict, at least in as much as one can be a marijuana addict given that marijuana is non addictive. She smokes first thing in the morning, if 11.00 o'clock in the morning can be described as first thing, rolling her joint while the water for coffee boils unnoticed in an uncovered pan on the habitual small flame gas ring of her cooker. It is balanced precariously on the black cast iron grid that holds the pans over the flames because the part of the grid that was designed for small pans is not in it's usual place. It is next door, on the ring designed for the biggest pans. It was replaced the wrong way round after a rare cleaning operation the day before. The pan will teeter and sometimes fall but the status quo will remain until a similar accident returns the grid to it's correct position.
The last joint of the day is the fattest one, just before bed, so she can sleep, if being comatose by marijuana overdose can be described as sleeping. In between, the number of joints can vary depending on availability and of course quality, if sheer brute strength can be described as a quality. She became a marijuana addict soon after stopping smoking cigarettes, if her daily routine comprising ten joints of 70% tobacco, 30 % marijuana can be described as not smoking. Of course she hasn't told her therapist that she is a substance abuser not wanting to bother him with her private life, if deliberately not revealing the truth about your private life can be described as therapy.
Her friend and fellow lost soul Irina doesn't smoke marijuana at all. Never has. She relies on her doctor to supply her with a legal substance, a powerful and dangerous chemical concoction masquerading as medication that she uses to deaden the pain, shatter her memory, destroy her libido and fry her tiny mind. But there are many paths back to Godhood and so we will refrain from judgement and just examine the "facts".
Priska is proud of the fact that she had the strength to put an end to the years of tobacco dependance that rendered her a likely candidate for a hospital bed in the cancer ward of her local hospital, and her apartment, a stinking, nicotine encrusted homage to excess and even though there has been a slight reduction in the amount of tobacco she consumes, now that she is a "non smoker", the smell still remains, though utterly overpowered by the all consuming stench of Holland's "greatest" invention, after the windmill, and clogs of course, skunk marijuana.
Skunk is a modified derivative of natural marijuana which grows in tropical zones where sunshine is abundant. It can be and indeed is grown by individuals in their gardens or window boxes all over the world but much of it is mass grown in strictly controlled artificial environments under lights. This is the kind that Priska smokes because it has been modified so that the active psychotropic agent THC (tetra something chloride) is exponentially increased due to genetic engineering and then released into her bloodstream in highly concentrated doses with every inhalation of the lung wrenching drags that she takes from her joints.
Natural marijuana is a "sacred plant" that can have varying effects on the human organism depending on the spiritual evolution of the user. For many it is nothing more than an escape from the drudgery of life, much as alcohol, and a liberator of all manner of conditioned, behavioural limitations, like tongues for talking, legs for dancing and chained libido for the enjoyment of sex. For the spiritually evolved it's sacred qualities come to the fore, raising the level of consciousness of the smoker to a higher plane, opening the doors of creativity and enhancing sensorial awareness and thus also the appreciation of beauty, especially in the domains of nature, music and art. Everything seems better because in that raised state of being everything is better. For many it allows a more focused attention to a chosen activity by suppressing the distractions of the egoic mind such as worry and doubt, that render concentration so difficult. Although it's detrimental effect on memory cannot be denied it has been the catalyst in the creation of many great works of art, music and literature. It is perhaps important to add here that sunshine is arguably the essence of everything we consume, taken indirectly through food and drink. There are apparently people who no longer consume anything solid at all, who claim to nourish themselves through light. I personally believe that this state is the destiny of the human race and that vegetarianism and veganism are stopping stations on the journey through rising states of consciousness. Take the sunshine out of marijuana and what remains? Something artificial! Something dangerous! Something dark and perhaps diabolic!
Irina is a prescribed substance addict. She first started using anti-depressors when she was eighteen after a sudden and terrifying free fall into the pit of despair that is deep depression. There was no obvious reason for it. It just descended on her from out of a clear blue, sun drenched sky one day after her eighteenth birthday. She woke up after a fitful sleep feeling anxious and the anxiety grew during the day to unbearable proportions that had her hospitalised before nightfall. So hysterical did she become that she was carried out of her parents home on a stretcher sedated almost to the point of unconsciousness. She recovered very slowly and became addicted to her medication, which has kept her in varying states of torpor for the next thirty years. She can be quite brilliant at times but more often the opposite of that and sometimes depressed and suicidal. She became an institutionalised "child of the state" living on a generous pension, living in a comfortable apartment in a leafy quarter of Zombieville. She worked for a few months teaching French to foreign children after her recovery but her concentration was already a relic of it's former self and a series of silly though minor mistakes destroyed her confidence and she resigned on the grounds of ill health. It was to be her only attempt at useful endeavour. She often gives the impression of a woman who could easily hold down a job, albeit a menial one but her natural intelligence and good education still shine through enough to render a job like that well below her intellectual capabilities and so the years passed and all hope of reinsertion into the normal social structure faded and died. It could be that her depression was a one off event and that she is now the victim purely of her medication but we will never know.
Irina is also a night time city centre prowler, sometimes a smiling mysterious woman child and sometimes menacing passers by with her horror movie, wicked aunt routine. Of course nobody knows how real it is or even if it is real at all, least of all her. Her true identity, lost under the confusion and delusion created by an anxiety attack and thirty years of medically prescribed substance abuse, an unknown. But there is a light that still shines, sometimes with breathtaking brilliance, that can render her a very beautiful woman and although one can still see that something is not quite right, very charismatic.
Irina's apartment is a disaster. Her bedroom resembles the wreckage scene of a crashed airplane. The shutters are permanently closed, not because she has an aversion to light or that she gives a damn about what the neighbours might see through high resolution military binoculars; she closed them one hot sunny day years back, at the beginning of a heatwave that lasted unbroken for two months and got used to it. The scratching and fluttering of sparrows that build their nests behind the lats during the spring mating season annoy her but not to the point of doing something about it. She got used to that as well. Her darkened, belonging strewn bedroom is now an integral part of her acquired identity. She is almost as likely to throw away her dirty laundry as to go to the nearby laundrette and wash it. When every available surface is layers thick with jettisoned clothes and shoes a fit of childish impatience can have her stuffing socks and underwear, skirts and pullovers, shoes and handbags into a rubbish bag, normally at the beginning of the month, when the money from the government has arrived that heralds a shopping spree opportunity not to be missed.
When Irina and Priska meet, Irina does the talking, seemingly incredibly attentive to the avoidance of asking Priska any questions beyond "Hi dear Priska! How are you?", often interrupting the short reply with an initial salvo of complaints about her problems with the impossible people in her life who have no respect or interest in her. Irina reveals everything and Priska nothing. The delusions of one on public display and those of the other locked in an underground vault. Their sole common denominator being solitude, the inability to find people who can put up with them for more than a short period of time and so an attraction born of desperation was created.
Irina still talks of her great lost love, twenty years previously, as though it was last year, her monologues ranging from adoration to hatred depending on her mood. He was an artist, a talented but unknown painter, marginal and also psychologically disturbed, who found outlet for his inner conflict through the medium of tortured abstract paintings, primarily in red and black. They spent a very stormy four years living together before the insistent cosmic call for change mainly for the sake of his art, overcame his obsession for her beauty and sexuality and he left her to live in Paris. Sometimes she hated him because he abandoned her and sometimes herself because she could have gone with him but the prospect of the ordeal of change was too frightening to behold.
Despite or because of her medication she is often depressed………………To be continued.